Dec. 7, 2009
BRIAN HARDIN: We have Jimmy Clausen, Coach Weis and Golden Tate. We’ll start with an opening statement by Jimmy Clausen, and then golden will speak. We’ll take questions from the media.
In terms of Coach Weis, Coach has issued a statement in a release that should be distributed to you guys. We will let that stand for itself. So we’ll direct all the questions to Jimmy and Golden. Coach is here at the request of Jimmy and Golden, that is why he’s sitting up front. But we’ll keep all questions to the players today. At this time we’ll start with Jimmy Clausen.
Jimmy Clausen: First and foremost, I’d like to thank my family for everything they’ve done for me throughout my entire life. The Notre Dame experience has been something that I’ll never forget. It’s been the highlight of my young career, and I wouldn’t change anything for it.
I want to thank Coach Weis and Coach Powlus as well as all the other coaches and staff. That includes the trainers, the doctors, the equipment managers, academic support and everyone associated with Notre Dame football. Especially Joe Montana and Joe Theismann.
I want to thank each one of my teammates. I thank you guys for coming today. For always being there for me through the past three years through all the trials and tribulations. I’d also like to thank my teachers and professors, fellow students, athletic director Jack Swarbrick, Father Jenkins, and the entire Notre Dame nation for all their support. Notre Dame has the best fans in the country, and I’ll always be a Golden Domer for life.
I’m excited for the future of this program, and wish all my teammates and the new you coaching staff all the success in the upcoming seasons.
Growing up as a kid, one of my life long dreams has been to play professional football in the NFL and with that being said, with the support of my family, coaches, I’ll be forgoing my senior year and entering the 2010 NFL draft.
Golden Tate: First of all, I’d like to go thank God, my savior. Without him none of this would be possible. I’d like to thank my family, especially my mother and father, for always being there and raising a knucklehead like myself. They have done a great job with me and I really appreciate that.
Next I’d like to mention my friends. My friends that kept me sane throughout this process that have been there, Keenan, Farley, and P. Dub. Also I’d like to thank the Notre Dame community. We have an outstanding student body and fan base.
This was a very tough decision for me. I have made so many great friends at Notre Dame, and the coaching I have received in football and baseball has been the best. But after talking with my family and Coach Weis, I’m going to pursue my dream and enter next year’s NFL draft.
I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am to Coach Weis and Coach Ianello and the rest of the Notre Dame football staff. The same goes for Coach Schrage and the baseball staff. Both programs are on the rise, and I’ll miss not being part of the success both football and baseball teams will enjoy next year.
While I am leaving before my senior year, I fully intend to get my degree in the near future. I am proud of all I have been able to accomplish during my time here. My proudest moment will come when I receive my diploma.
The fans and students at Notre Dame are the best in the country, and I’ll always be a member of the Fighting Irish.
Q. I think a lot of people were expecting this, but it looks like this was a tougher decision for both of you than we had thought. Could you elaborate on that?
Jimmy Clausen: It is a tough decision. You know, coming to Notre Dame I just wanted to be part of the Notre Dame family. It’s hard coming in with a group of guys in your class and getting to know them like they’re your brothers.
We’ve been through so much here as a football team and as a school. I couldn’t thank everybody for all the support they have given me and the rest of the guys on the team. It was a hard decision.
I’ve always wanted to play professional football. But at the same time I’m going to leave a lot of good friends and people that I have met here and that are going to be my friends for the rest of my life. It’s going to be a hard transition for me.
Golden Tate: When you come to Notre Dame you know you’re going to develop some very good relationships with people. Going into this year, I’m expecting to be here for another year after my junior year. Then for it to become a reality that I might not be here and to leave the people up here that I love so much and develop great relationships with, it’s tough.
But like Jimmy said, it’s been a dream to play in the NFL. So, I think it’s time for me to go.
Q. I know both of you guys talked to Coach Weis. Would you just recount the discussion in terms of why you feel this is the best choice for you at this time?
Jimmy Clausen: When I first had the conversation with Coach Weis, which was after the season, and I told you guys each and every time you asked me about leaving or staying, I told you guys that I haven’t had any conversation with my family or Coach Weis. That first conversation he just told me that I’m ready to go. Whether he was going to be here or not, it was my time to go. He think that’s I’m ready for the NFL. I’m just really excited right now.
Golden Tate: Coming into my junior season Coach Weis and I actually had a conversation. He said I wouldn’t leave after junior year unless I had 17 touchdowns and about 1500 yards. He hit the nail right on the head. I think it’s the right moment for us.
Q. Obviously this is a personal decision for you, but how excited is your family about this opportunity as well?
Jimmy Clausen: They’re real excited. You saw me tearing up up here. You know, it it’s just a dream come true for me, and I think it’s a dream come true for them as well.
I’ve put a lot of hard work and time to get to this point in my life. I couldn’t have done anything without each and every one of them that are standing up top.
Q. Golden, did Jimmy’s decision play any part in your decision?
Golden Tate: There are a lot of things that played a part. Obviously Jimmy being one of them. But after having the year that I had, I’m not sure if I can even do much better, so I just feel like it was the right time. Go out while you’re hot, you know.
Q. I’m curious about your baseball career. Is that something you’ll still look into?
Golden Tate: As of now I’m going to focus on football. But who knows, maybe in five or six years I’ll enter some softball league (laughing).
Q. Do you have any idea where Coach will expect you to go, first round or anything like that, as far as what to expect come April?
Jimmy Clausen: We talked about that a little bit. I think me and Golden are going to send our paperwork in and see where our projections are. You know at this point in time there are still college games being played, and the NFL knows where I’ll be projected.
There are people talking different things all over the TV and internet. But I’m just really excited. This is a great time in my life. Probably the biggest decision that I’ve ever made.
Golden Tate: Yeah, I’ve talked with a few people, and I think they predict me to go between the first and the seventh round, so somewhere between there. But I’m not sure. I’m just going to start working towards being up there.
Q. We talked to you a few weeks ago and you were talking about how you were inspired by your brother and the memory of him not being drafted. I know just knowing that everyone expects you to get drafted, what’s that mean to you just knowing that’s coming?
Jimmy Clausen: It means a lot. That was a hard day for my brother and my family. Like I said, I’ll never forget that day. That’s one of the things that I’ve been working so hard for is to not have that ever happen to me.
He told me that day that that’s not going to happen to me. He’s not going to let that happen. I still have a lot of work to do in the off season when I go to workout and get ready for the combine and the draft.
Q. What do you think your legacy here at Notre Dame as a quarterback?
Jimmy Clausen: To be honest, I don’t know. I think that’s still to be determined. I just hope that I left this place better than I found it.
I’ve met so many great people here. I hope they can say that about me you know, it’s been a special time here. I’m probably not going to really realize that until a few years down the road.
But when I think about not being here next semester and next year, it gives me the chills. It’s just been a great time in my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Q. Athletically as a quarterback, what do you think the next step is for you as you look ahead to next fall?
Jimmy Clausen: I don’t know. I think I have worked really hard. I give Coach Weis and Coach Powlus all the credit for making me the player that I am today. I’ve made big leaps and bounds since I came in as a freshman. I think there is still a lot more that I can do to make myself the best player that I can be.
Q. Did you give any consideration to waiting until a new head coach was named, or you just didn’t want to consider that?
Golden Tate: There are a lot of things that went through my head. Like I said earlier with the year I had this year, it was kind of hard to stay. To be honest, I don’t think I can do much better next year or any year in college, so I think the time is right.
Q. When you look back to your freshman year, didn’t get that much playing time. Did you ever think it was possible to be sitting here two years later?
Golden Tate: Absolutely not. My freshman year, you can ask some of these guys up here, you could tell me a play and I still wouldn’t know how to run it. So I think I’ve grown a lot. I’ve made big steps. But, no, I never would have thought I’d be sitting here after my junior season declaring to go to the draft. So, no.
Q. What are your plans as far as going forward and preparing for the combine?
Golden Tate: Focusing on getting stronger and faster. I guess at this point we’ll start looking for agents and stuff like that. So that’s probably the next step.
Q. Do you have any idea where you guys will be working out? Will you stay on campus?
Golden Tate: No, I’m not sure yet. I’ll talk to my family, and I’m sure Coach Weis will help us out with that.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, same thing. I don’t know who is going to represent me. At this time I’m going to go have a few meetings with my family and different agents and talk to Coach Weis and get advice from him. Make the best decision for myself.
After that, obviously, just go workout wherever Whichever agent you go with, you’ll go workout based upon the decision that I make.
Q. Did the fact that the NFL’s going to change its salary structure after this year’s draft have any kind of impact on your decision?
Jimmy Clausen: No, not at all. You know, a lot of people had that talk about the rookie salary cap and different things like that. But like Golden said a few times, this is just the right time for us to go out.
I don’t think we could have done more than we did this past year. Golden has played great. I’ve done my part. I think this is just the best time for us to go out.
Q. Aside from football, what part of the Notre Dame experience will you miss the most?
Golden Tate: There is too many to even mention. Just walking over to the North dining hall, my friends being right there. Simple things like that. I guess you don’t really understand until it’s being taken away from you. Hitting that “Play Like a Champion” sign before every game. It’s tough for that to be taken away from you. But you’ve got to live with it.
Jimmy Clausen: It’s different. I’ve had so many great relationships here at Notre Dame. All my teachers and professors and people at dining halls and campus police, the security, the coaches and everything like that. It’s been a great experience.
This is one of the reasons I came to Notre Dame. It’s just a great place to be with great people. That’s why I’ve had such a great time here at Notre Dame.
Q. How ready is Dayne (Crist) to take over for you?
Jimmy Clausen: Dayne’s ready. I texted him earlier today and told him I was going to make this decision. Just told him it’s his team now, and he’s got to take the bull by the horns. He’s going to do a great job. But first things first he just had surgery on his knee. I just told him to get healthy as fast as he can and get these guys going.
Q. Have you talked to Michael (Floyd) and some of the other younger receivers?
Golden Tate: Yeah, Michael knows what he needs to do. I talked to Goody (John Goodman), Deion (Walker), and some of the young guys. Said it’s your time now. Work hard, and if you need anything, any tips, just they also have my number.
Q. You’re probably one of the few players that’s going to go to the NFL and get less media attention. How much does that play influence your factor of making this decision? All the attention that you’ve gotten here and the scrutiny?
Jimmy Clausen: I think that’s all going to help me down the road. When you come to a place like Notre Dame with all the media attention, it’s hard at one point. But if you look past it, it’s only going to help you down the road. It’s been a roller coaster, but, like I said, it’s prepared me for the next level. Hopefully down the road it will make me a better person and better player.
Q. You’re obviously there talent wise, but are there things that you’re not going to achieve as college athletes? Is there a part of you that wishes you could stick around one more year?
Golden Tate: Obviously I want to stay around and help Notre Dame compete for a BCS and possibly a National Championship, but that’s the only thing I have.
Jimmy Clausen: Obviously, when you come to a college program and you want to go to the National Championship and win as many games as you can. Obviously, he we didn’t really do that and didn’t reach our full potential.
At the same time, it’s just the next step in our lives. It’s time for us to move on. I’ll be there for each and every one of these guys. If they ever need me, they’ll have any number and I’ll always be there for those guys.
Q. Is there any chance you guys will be here in school next semester or is that pretty much out of the question?
Golden Tate: I’m not sure. That is one of the things my family and I will talk about and whoever I pick to be my agent. It’s definitely possible that I could be here training and also going to school, so we’ll see.
Jimmy Clausen: I really don’t know the answer to that question. But I’m definitely going to come back and get my degree. That’s one of the big reasons I came here is to get a Notre Dame degree, and I definitely will be back to get that.
Q. Can you share a Charlie Weis story, a funny story? What you’ll miss or not miss about him? Something he taught you? Just a story from each of you.
Golden Tate: It was during camp. Summer camp, the dog days, legs hurting. He comes up and sitting down. He says, `What if there were a couple of buses outside? What if there was a big lake with jet he skis and boats’ and all types of things and everyone’s getting excited. But there’s not. And he kept going, `What if there was barbecuing and things like that?’
And next thing I remember is he’s saying, `Well, you deserve to go on the lake all day instead of watching film and practicing in the heat.’ So we went to the lake all day. I think that was good for us as a team. Definitely made us closer.
Jimmy Clausen: I think the one thing that I will remember or will miss about Coach Weis and what he’s done for us is taken us over to his house each and every year during the summertimes to have a big barbecue. All the guys come over there with beach towels and swimsuits on and go in the pool, eat a lot.
At the end, we all went on the baseball field that he has in his backyard and we played a big softball game with the whole entire team with the coaches and everything.
That is just something that you really don’t think coaches do for their players, but Coach Weis really does truly care for each and every one of his players. That is one of the things that I’ll never forget.
Q. How much would either of you like to play one more game, and how much are you at peace with the decision not to play?
Golden Tate: I think it was more of a group decision. I think we all made the decision to not play in the bowl game so we can prepare for next year. Go ahead and get in the off season, lift weights, get faster and stronger. So I think it was more of a team decision.
There’s a lot of things to take under circumstances. But we all chose that it’s the best thing. I think if we can just go ahead and kick off the off season ask start working out, it will help us for next year.
Jimmy Clausen: I think the same thing. It was a team decision. I think it’s the best thing for not only the players, but the university. Some guys are moving on to the next level. Lot of the guys are injured and need to get healthy and prepare for next year. I think it was the best decision that Mr. Swarbrick made, and that’s what we’re going with now.